The West Bengal Panchayat Model in Peril? A Survey-based Appraisal of West Bengal Panchayats
The Panchayati Raj System was aimed to be a tool for democratisation and development of the rural parts of India. The state of West Bengal was long time considered a model for a efficient and exemplary implementation of local self- government. Especially the early successes of the Communist government in land reforms and social justice during the late 1970s and the 1980s sparked academic interest in this model. This paper intends to examine this view on the base of a survey amongst the rural populace in the West Bengal district of Burdwan about the perception of the Panchayat institutions itself and their perceived performance. The aim is to prove or disprove West Bengals perceived model character by investigating the view of the ordinary citizen on the Panchayats and the impression he/she has about the institutions performance in various fields, e.g. infrastructure. The paper also looks into the roles of both leading political parties, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI-M) and the All India Trinamool Congress (AITC), in the West Bengal Panchayats and how these roles are perceived.
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